Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

PhD Student Profiles


Ana Braconnier

Ana-Isabel Braconnier holds a master’s degree in Comparative Political Sociology with a focus on Latin America from the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po Paris) and a bachelor’s in Political Science from the same school. Since 2009, she has occupied several positions as a socio-political researcher and consultant for nonprofit organizations in Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City. Her specialization embraces multicultural and intercultural studies. Recently, she has focused on legal pluralism, indigenous peoples’ access to justice, and the judiciary in Guatemala. As a political science lecturer at the Universidad Rafael Landívar, she explored ludic and artistic pedagogical methods with her students.

Research Interests: Legal pluralism; human and indigenous peoples’ rights; multicultural politics; the judiciary; Guatemala; Latin America

Mary Elizabeth Cassio

Mary Elizabeth Cassio received a bachelor's degree in Hispanic Studies from Pacific Lutheran University and a master's degree in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies from University of Wisconsin–Madison. During her time at the University of Wisconsin, she studied the Ecuadorian Kichwa language. She translated and interpreted four Kichwa poems for her master's thesis, "Llakichina and the Decolonial Subject in Four Kichwa Poems," and used a decolonial and post-structural approach to examine an Ecuadorian Kichwa aesthetic expression in these poems. She intends to continue working with Kichwa poetic literatures, and is interested in contemporary Kichwa poetry that explores binary identities.

Research Interests: Decoloniality; Ecuadorian Kichwa language and literatures; bilingual poetry; indigeneity and indigenous poetics

Rony Castillo Guity

Rony Castillo Guity received a bachelor´s degree in Philosophy from the Universidad Seminario Mayor Nuestra Señora de Suyapa de Honduras in 2002 and a master’s in Project Management from the Catholic University of Honduras in 2006. Since 2003, he has worked on several educational projects at the Secretary of Education in Honduras, and at the Bilingual and Intercultural Education Program for Garifuna and Indigenous people throughout Central America. His current focus of study is on the revitalization, restoration, and conservation of the Garifuna language and culture in Honduras. Rony is also interested in visiting North Africa, Saint Vincent Island, and Venezuela to include the history of Garifuna language in his sociolinguistic research, and to rewrite that history.

Research Interests: Garifuna history; culture; languages; African diaspora; intercultural; bilingualism and education

Mario Castro-Villarreal

Mario N. Castro-Villarreal received a bachelor's in Mexican Letters from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León and currently holds a master of arts in Mexican American Studies from the Center for Mexican American Studies at UT Austin. His master's thesis, "Fictionalizing Juarez: Feminicide, Violence and Myth-making in the Borderlands," focused on fictional representations of the feminicides of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. In the doctoral program at LILLAS, his research will continue to explore the intersections of gender, race, and class in the ongoing violence occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Research Interests: Latin American and Chicano literature and film; U.S.-Mexico border violence; Mexican drug war; narco culture; gender and ethnic studies

Jorge Choy Gómez

Jorge Choy Gómez is from a small town in southern Mexico called Tapachula. He completed a bachelor’s degree in social psychology and a master’s degree in social anthropology, both focused on Central American immigration in southern Mexico. He plans to continue with the subject of human mobility from Central America to Mexico and the United States, now focusing on the protection system for children and adolescents, a system that protects by arresting and imprisoning.

Research Interests: Human mobility from Central America to Mexico and the US; protection versus detention of children and adolescent migrants

Prisca Gayles

Prisca Gayles has a bachelor’s in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of Pittsburgh and a master´s in Latin American Studies from the University of South Florida. She works as a Study Abroad coordinator and teaches Human Rights in Buenos Aires while continuing her research on Afro-Argentine activism. Her research focuses on the racial discourse in Buenos Aires and activist methods of combatting racism in educational curricula, the media, and vernacular language.

Research Interests: Cultural politics; Afrodescendants; civic engagement; citizenship; social inequalities

Alexandra Lamiña

Alexandra Lamiña is an international PhD student from Ecuador. She is a geographer and holds an engineering degree in environmental studies. She completed her master’s degree in the Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning programs at The University of Texas at Austin. Alexandra has been working since 2010 with the Kichwa from the Ecuadorian Amazon to support processes of territoriality and political representation. Her main areas of involvement include social mobilization, community participation, participatory mapping, and ethnography. Currently, she investigates indigenous vis-à-vis modernist planning in the Ecuadorian Amazon, focusing on the challenge posed to modern planning by indigenous ontologies and the opportunities for forging new forms of planning that incorporates indigenous epistemologies.

Research Interests: Social mobilization; community participation; participatory mapping; ethnography; indigenous peoples and planning in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Adriana María Linares Palma

Adriana Linares Palma received a bachelor´s in Archaeology from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala in 2009 and an MA in Latin American Studies from UT Austin in 2014. She has gained expertise working in the field since 2002 in several archaeological projects in the Maya Lowlands and Highlands of Guatemala. Her current focus of study is community-based archaeology in the Ixil area, in the Western highlands of Guatemala, as an ongoing project that addresses with indigenous leaders the benefits and risks of conducting archaeological research in their communities, incorporating their concerns into a community project for knowledge production about their ancestors for their own use. Adriana is also interested in including ethnography and oral history in archaeological research for a better understanding of the past.    

Research Interests: Mesoamerican archaeology; women figurines; public archaeology; community-based archaeology; multivocality; feminist archaeology; decolonizing archaeology

Ana María López H.

Ana María López H. holds a master’s degree in European, Latin American, and Comparative Literatures and Cultures from the University of Cambridge, and a bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, where she focused on creative writing and literary research. Aside from her PhD, she is currently pursuing a virtual graduate qualification in Epistemologies of the South from Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO). From a creative perspective, she is constantly working on poetry and narrative writing. 

Ana María’s current research focuses on diverse forms of narratives of memory produced by women in the frame of the Colombian armed conflict. She wants to approach narrative from a decolonial feminist perspective, exploring the intersections of race, gender, and class in the production of discourses and the reconstruction of memory. 

Research Interests: Decolonial studies; epistemologies of the South; gender studies; feminisms of the South; feminist theory; intersectionality; narratives; memory; violence; conflict and “post-conflict” Colombia

Ruth Matamoros Mercado

Ruth Matamoros Mercado is the mother of two awesome kids, Noah and Ariadna. She belongs to the Miskitu indigenous group from the northern autonomous region of Nicaragua. Ruth completed a master’s degree in Latin American Studies at LLILAS, majoring in anthropology, almost 10 years ago. She did research in Honduras and Nicaragua to analyze the newly emergent transnational identity among Miskitu from the two countries, which is especially significant in a moment in which Miskitu from both countries are immersed in struggles to achieve recognition of their rights over land and natural resources. She is currently trying to understand the cultural vision of indigenous peoples regarding land and natural resources, and the ways that colonization and subordination have had an influence in shaping those visions.

Research Interests: Cultural vision of indigenous peoples regarding land and natural resources; influence of colonization and subordination in shaping those visions 

Pablo Millalen Lepin

Pablo Millalen Lepin is from the Mapuche community of Maniuco, Commune of Galvarino, southern Chile. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s in Management and Public Policy from the University of Santiago de Chile. He is interested in the study of state programs and policies regarding Indigenous peoples in Chile and Latin America, with a particular focus on the relationships between the Chilean State and the Mapuche people. He was a fellow at the Human Rights Program for Indigenous Peoples of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the University of Deusto (2016); he also studied at the International People's College in Denmark. He is a member of the indigenous research collective Comunidad de Historia Mapuche, which is based in Temuco, Chile.

Research Interests: State policies and Indigenous peoples; the Chilean state and the Mapuche people; Indigenous politics; neoliberalism, multiculturalism, and public policies; indigenous rights, human rights, and international relations 

Yoalli Rodríguez Aguilera

Yoalli Rodríguez Aguilera was born and raised in Mexico. She received a bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology from the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, and a master’s in Social Anthropology from the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social in Mexico City. She has worked in the areas of juridical anthropology, gender, feminism, and human rights. Her research seeks to understand the various conceptions of justice, dignity, and human rights of women organized in Mexico. She has also worked in the area of visual anthropology.

Research interests: Human rights; justice; gender; history of ideas in Latin America

Angela Tapia

Before arriving at The University of Texas at Austin, Angela Tapia worked as a lawyer defending indigenous rights in Peru. She received her MA in Latin American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and completed her thesis, titled “The Kakataibo Indigenous Peoples: The Sense of Belonging.” Her current doctoral research continues to focus on indigenous peoples, however she has changed her focus from the Amazon region to the highland Andes. This change reflects her own origins as a Quechua woman born in Puno.

Her current research focuses on clothing, specifically polleras. One example of her work is "Making Beauty: The Wearing of Polleras in the Andean Altiplano." She examines questions such as, "why do indigenous peoples from the Andes wear polleras if this garment carries a pejorative connotation?"

Research Interests: Clothing; human/non-human agency; gender; indigeneity; aesthetics; memory; religion

Juan Tiney Chirix

Juan is a Tzutujil-Kakchiquel Mayan non-binary student who grew up in a country called Guatemala. Before starting their doctoral studies at UT Austin, Juan received a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Havana and dual master’s degree in Latin American Studies / Community and Regional Planning, which expanded their knowledge of the officially recognized Indigenous literature in academia, both in Latin America and in the United States. The struggle for recognition and respect for Indigenous nations is a family legacy. Juan has also been involved in reclaiming academic spaces for the recognition of Indigenous knowledge, especially the indigenous economy and politics. Juan’s master’s thesis, titled “El cooperativismo como espacio político y económico para el empoderamiento de las mujeres negras e indígenas: diálogos intersectoriales sur-sur (La República Dominicana y Guatemala),” centered on the recognition of the knowledge of women of color, especially Indigenous and Black women, in microprojects of permaculture; however, Juan analyzes research methodologies and positionality as a non-binary Indigenous researcher.

Research Interests: Indigenous studies in Guatemala; critical race and gender theory; political economics; cooperativism and neoliberalism; decolonization of planning; participatory methodology

Olimpia Montserrat Valdivia Ramírez

Born in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, Montserrat holds a BA in Social Anthropology, and a MA in Asian and African Studies from El Colegio de México. Her broad areas of study are youth and violence, migration, and refugees. Currently, she is developing a transnational and qualitative dissertation research project regarding the experiences of Central American adolescents who have backgrounds as gang members (like Mara Salvatrucha, MS 13, and 18th Street) as they leave their home countries and traverse the increasingly arcane asylum process through Mexico. The goal of this project is to analyze how those minors experience structural violence in their home countries, how their gang affiliation and an environment of generalized violence negatively affect their human rights and allow them to migrate in search of protection. 

As a Brumley Next Generation Graduate Fellow at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law for academic year 2019–20, she will work with Dr. Jacob Dizard of the Strauss Center's Central America/Mexico Policy Initiative.

Research Interests: Refugees; irregular migration and its risks; international organizations; Mexico–Guatemala border

Ricardo Velasco

Ricardo Velasco is a social documentary media producer interested in violence, trauma, human rights, and transitional justice in contemporary Colombia. His academic degrees include a Bachelor of Music from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master of Arts in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ricardo’s research has focused on the uses of documentary for the construction of historical memory, and in the political potential of the uses of new media technologies among organizations of victims of the Colombian armed conflict. With the support of a fellowship from the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2013–2014), he recently produced the documentary After the Crossfire: Memories of Violence and Displacement, a testimonial account of the emergence and escalation of the armed conflict, and the effects of violence among the civilian population of Colombia's remote north Pacific coast region.

Research Interests: Latin American cultural and media studies; memory and documentary studies; audiovisual testimony, trauma, transitional justice, and the Colombian armed conflict; media literacy, solidarity networks, and ethno-territorial social movements in the Pacific coast of Colombia

  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
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